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The History of Barcodes

Today barcodes are used on everything from the apples at your grocery store to the clothes at your favorite retail chain – even the mail relies on barcodes! But did you know that this ubiquitous system was originally inspired by Morse code? When Drexel students Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver invented the first barcode system in 1949, they based the thin and thick lines on the dots and dashes used in Morse code. Their barcode system was originally created for use in local Pennsylvania grocery stores, but the barcode system remained unstandardized for wider use until George J. Laurer invented UPC, or Uniform Product Code, in 1973.

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